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My Dirty Kitchen.

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Came across this article I wrote a while back. It’s worthy of sharing again, I think!

I hope my grandchildren will always be able to imagine many perspectives of the same situation, that they learn not to be judgmental, and that they learn to consider many possibilities. Quite simply, I hope they remain the creative thinkers that they are born to be.  And I hope that one day my grandchild tells the story of “The Dirty Kitchen” revealing how her Nana is incredibly amazing and creative. I hope that the idea that her Nana might be a slob doesn’t even cross her mind. Storytelling is the key to this one and it goes a bit like this:

dirty kitchen story image

Once upon a time there was a very dirty kitchen. “Oh my!” the kitchen cried out as they watched their homeowner slip out the door balancing a baby shower cake, “she left us! We are the messiest dirtiest stickiest kitchen ever!”  

“We need help,” announced the pots and pans in a very tinny sort of voice.

They opened the window and the faeries flew in exclaiming, “We’ll help!” 

“Is our homeowner a slob?” asked the teeniest tiny of the sticky forks.

“No, no,” answered the faeries, “she’s been very busy with making things and with people and workshops and, topping it off, with making a fancy dancy baby shower cake.. well, she just hasn’t had time to clean you up.”

“I’m happy to be part of her fun and imagination and creative play!” admits the icing coated counter top. The rest of the kitchen, including the dirty dusty dog print covered floor, cheers.

And so the faeries with a wave of their wand fill the sink with soapy warm water. The gluey gooey pot leaps in and does a little jig that sounds like this: kaswish kaswoosh. The faeries rinse him off and magically dry him and plop he finds his place in the cupboard.   

The story does go on and on as each character in the kitchen gets swept, washed, or wiped with the grand finale that the homeowner comes home, with her little granddaughter in tow, to find a lovely clean kitchen.

Easy to guess how this story began.  Even I was a bit shocked when I looked at my kitchen as my granddaughter said, “oh, the kitchen is very dirty.”  Pretty bad when a 3 year old notices. I could have succumbed to feeling like an incompetent housekeeper, but the more valuable and truthful perspective was that I had in fact pulled off some wonderful things in just a couple of days. I admit I was partially inspired by not wanting her to tell everyone “My Nana has a very dirty kitchen” in the same way she told EVERYONE “My Nana smashed into Auntie’s car.”  I thought it would be better for my granddaughter to consider how the kitchen came to be so dirty and our storytelling adventure of “The Dirty Kitchen” evolved.  In creating the story together I’d asked my granddaughter “why was the homeowner soooo busy that she didn’t get to clean the kitchen?’   It was a joy to watch her think that through and name all the things her Nana does. The story inspired both of us to clean the kitchen and it has since become one of her favourite bedtime stories at Nana’s house.

Storytelling is a great way to introduce new perspectives that focus on ‘what’s right’ instead of ‘what’s wrong’, encourage imagination and of course, feel better about a dirty kitchen.  All you have to do is say “Once upon a time there was (include topic)” and whisper to your child, “what happens next?”

by Janet L Whitehead  –  copyright 2012, 2017

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Miracles: Art creating itself.

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23826140_10155914672615891_6496158457849454641_oThis happened today.  I did not make it. It made itself.  My yupo paper was tucked upright in the side of a container, along
with my alcohol inks. Today I got the container out and noticed the red alcohol ink container had leaked.

Imagine my astounded surprise when I pulled out the yupo paper and this is what I found.

I have no explanation for why the ink creeped UPwards on the paper, nor why it dried so beautifully, nor why it chose to create a series of dragons and other critters. I do know a book is going to happen from this!!

Ah, the miracle of it all.  I hope art creates itself for me more often.

ps. I’m crazy happy to announce good things happening in my creative world. Of course, it’s not all this kind of miracle – though, sometimes when I get to work with people, we do see some pretty profound magic.  

One good thing?  New business evolution. Please stop by my new coaching, courses and community site  – novelminds.ca   It’s still in progress but I’m excited about the courses and community that will begin in January.  There’s a place to sign up for my as always infrequent newsletter if you’d like to stay updated and inspired!  Maybe we can work on getting your art to create itself too. 

Musings and Mud still exists in a whole brand new way – my written works and art projects and meanderings and faeries have their own space. It’s kind of fun to have a space just for that.

Another good thing?  I’ve donated my pottery studio to Kamloops Makerspace – a fantastic place full of creative and innovative people and things.  I’ve been teaching classes, new and experienced potters are getting to hang  out and inspire each other, as well as with techies, carpenters, wood carvers, electricians, digital artists, fabric artists, etc etc. It’s crazy amazing. Kamloops Makerspace.  If you aren’t from around town, Makerspaces are popping up world wide. There might be one in your community, or perhaps you’ll be the one to get one going!  

Building a stronger, braver, more fun brain.

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I’ve just posted a number of alcohol ink items I’ve recently made, to the photo gallery on my new Musings and Mud site. This is funnier than hell. Who posts beginner pieces of art on their website?  Me, apparently.

Maybe this can inspire you, and keep reminding me, to be okay with being a ‘janet of all trades.’ To be okay with experimenting in new mediums that may never make you money, that may never make you famous, that may never ever ever get posted on the Alcohol Ink community on Facebook. (Have you seen the extraordinary work of those people? Oh. My.)

There was no plan. Just pour and move inks. But, wait! There’s a ship! There’s legs!

(I know some of the pieces look decent in the photos. The pendants. But, trust me, they aren’t that great. This was one of those rare occasions where the artwork photographs better than in real life.)

But, oh my gom, the joys of beginner’s mind!  
“Have ink. Have paper. Have brass.
Pour.
Oh, look how that colour mixes.
Cool.
Oh my god, stop! Stop flowing that way!
Ugh!
Oh look at how beautiful areas are when they dry. So unexpected.
A little more gold. Oops.
Thank goodness nobody is ever going to see this.
This is fun!

No, no, don’t use your fingers.
No, don’t wipe them on your once favourite hoodie. (now officially ruined.)  
Oh, wait, this is beautiful.
I could pour a little alcohol here… cool!  It makes distinct lines… “

Okay, you know the routine. You’ve been there, right? I got to escape into colour and flow and creative thinking. Just a break from the day. Wrong. This process does SO MUCH MORE than give you a break!
This process keeps the door open for our whole mind to function better.

First it lifts our spirits.
Often it lets in humour.
Then the naysayer part of our mind steps aside, thinking: ‘Whatever – she’s just playing.”
Next the rest of our mind starts firing with all kinds of new connections and ideas.
All of that doesn’t stop when you stop creating.

Our logical mind is, well, logical. It is busy helping us make decisions that it thinks keeps us safe. It runs on what it knows from the past and will purr along repeating the same old shi.. stuff as we go through our day.

It needs reminders that we can think differently. That we can make new connections and find new ways. If it’s hard for you to justify creating, and especially justifying making stuff in new mediums, you could remind yourself that you are retraining your brain. Giving it a good ol’ workout. Building a stronger, braver, more fun brain. The logical brain likes that kind of talk and will be more supportive.

And for me, as per my memoir, Beyond All Imaginings, it keeps me open to the magic that exists in our world.

Beyond All Imaginings – Phew!

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bai-front-coverPhew!  Beyond All Imaginings, my wildly magical memoir is published. It’s been a work in progress for quite some time. And some of that work in progress was my mind asking, “Really, Janet? Are you really going to share your story with the world?”

But then, last year, I was nagged/haunted/obsessed with the idea that it was time to put the story out into the world.  It wasn’t easy. After all, there will be some who will think me crazy. Or so I thought, anyway.

So far, nobody has claimed  me ‘crazy,’ though I suspect someone will and that’s okay now because the book is out there, doing more than I could have imagined.  Beyond All Imaginings is just my story, but it is opening doors of possibilities for others. I get teary at the beautiful stories and reviews shared back from readers.

I get teary at the synchronicities that are happening for readers, and for me as I sign personal copies. Magical connections are continuing beyond the story itself, it appears. It’s like the book has taken on a life of it’s own and I get to be a spectator.

I’m not the best at promoting (have you noticed?) – but I am very grateful this story got told and I can share it. Especially right now, when the world needs a little more magic.  Right now, if we can all open that door just a little more, perhaps we can start to make things going wrong in the world right.

What’s the story about? I’ve still not come up with an ‘in a nutshell’ synopsis. So I’m sharing the back cover story…  

This is the true story of magic and altering time and people who died and beings who introduced themselves as faeries… and this is a story of pottery.
It’s about smashed fingers, smashed dreams, smashed faeries and the value of throwing up your arms and saying “whatever.”
It’s about impossible things being possible and Rolling Stones playing on unplugged radios.
It’s about the tragic loss of loved ones and the heart-wrenching grief; and the magic of faerie-like beings showing up in my clay, on my pages, and in my home – which they did very much to my dismay, at least at first.
And a mystery; these same faeries insist on blowing themselves up!
This is the story that blurs your boundaries between reality and fantasy and leaves you wishing you could find your way into my world, albeit without the tragedies.
As you can imagine, this has not been a simple story to write. Hell, if it were fantasy it would have been easy… but this is my life.

Curious? Click here to read ‘inside’ on your favourite Amazon site.  Oh heck, I’ll share some reviews below.

If this story is calling to you and you might like a personally signed copy, please send me a message.  janet@novelminds.ca

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St. Nicholas, Patron Saint of Children and Sailors

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Wishes for You this Christmas…

christmas ship copyright jlwThe stories say St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children and sailors. As the magical fella circumnavigates the world tonight, may your childlike heart and your adventurous soul be blessed.

Like a sailor on her watch, may you be especially attuned to the precious moments that surround you.

May you toss all unkind thoughts overboard, especially those you say to yourself, to lighten your ship, setting you free to sail wherever you wish to be.

And, especially, if things feel a little stormy, I wish you a peaceful energy that fills your sails with
comfort as you remember those not with you or as you navigate through changes that feel a little harder this time of year.

(Psst…St. Nick, sprinkle these special people with an extra dose of child-like magic and playfulness to brighten their holidays even more than they imagined possible. Thanks.)
He’s very good at that, you know.
Merry Christmas!  Yo Ho Ho!

What the world needs now…

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You know that moment when you feel absolute unconditional love.. a love that will last forever? Perhaps when you hold that newborn baby, or the dog in your lap looks at you with those unconditional loving eyes, and you just know? You know you will love them no matter what happens. No matter how they behave. No matter whether they make mistakes or even if they ever choose not to love you. You just love them unconditionally, No. Matter. What.  Can you feel that feeling?
Today, on International Women’s Day, I wish that every woman in the world could feel that way about themselves. Pure unconditional love. A lofty wish, I know. Maybe if you just try it, somehow that energy will ripple out. Men, I wish it for you, too. Just imagine the world if this could happen.

Happy Groundhog Day! How will you celebrate?

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Really. How will you celebrate?

Use anything as an excuse to celebrate, even a groundhog. Celebrations are a bit like a gratitude journal in action. Celebrate today, celebrate your being here today, celebrate something you are pleased about, celebrate your shadow whether you see it or not.
Did I say celebrate your shadow?  Sure did. When the groundhog sees her shadow, it’s a celebration that spring is on it’s way.  Wait, no, it’s the opposite! That doesn’t make sense at all: Sunny day… seeing a shadow… you would think it would be a sign of spring. Well, good for you, Groundhog, for your out-of-the-box thinking.  And that’s okay – my point is about acknowledging the shadow we all have.  And celebrating it, as well as all the wonderful things about you.

The thing about shadows is that our shadow plays it’s most serious havoc when we try to tuck it away. It simmers into something inside that you think is dark and difficult, but honestly, when you actually look at it (pretending it belongs to good friend is a good perspective to see it differently), or play with it, draw it, collage it, paint it, turn it into a poem, or heck, take it paddling – you discover:

  1. the part of you that you thought was so …ummm… dark, isn’t.
  2. you’ve spent a lot of thought energy tucking it in – it takes less energy to have a look at it, and it frees a whole lot of energy for other things.
  3.  it’s a fabulous fuel for creative expression! You might even come to appreciate your shadow; after all, it arrived in your best interest at some time in your life. It just got turned darker as it got buried.
  4. If you happen to be practicing the art of non-judgement, exploring your shadow is a good place to see how you are progressing.

More about celebrating: 

cel·e·bra·tion: ˌseləˈbrāSH(ə)n/
noun
noun: celebration; plural noun: celebrations

1.  the action of marking one’s pleasure at an important event or occasion by engaging in enjoyable, typically social, activity

2.  an action that acknowledges something valuable within us, that can otherwise easily go unnoticed.

Okay, yes, I made up the second one, just in case you are off to google ‘celebration.’

One more little celebration tip:  Keep it simple for starts. It’s very common for a client who has been invited to celebrate a success to say “I will plan a vacation in 6 months.”  Great! But, in fact, that big longterm goal won’t do the job of celebrating a success now, when you most need to acknowledge it.  Plus, it adds a new pressure to get something big done!  When I ask if there is something simpler that could be done today, things like these evolve; “have a chocolate sundae,”  “give myself permission to curl up by the fire and read for an hour,” “snowshoe tomorrow,”  “light my favourite candle and be quiet for a moment,”… these are things that are do-able, that feel good.  Just pick something that lifts your spirits or pampers you a bit. That’s enough.

And so, I ask again, how will you celebrate?

(My latest newsletter has some upcoming opportunities to explore celebrating, shadows, imagination, sparks. If you are curious, please click here: http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=b5e1f9413f21b5cbe7a1b58e6&id=02dd494774 )

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